Thanks for your interest in the independent movement
One line of thinking in political science and politics suggests that the parties are working well. They offer a stark contrast across most issue domains, they efficiently save voters time by identifying candidates that likely share similar goals/values, and they facilitate mass-level participation in the democratic process. In 1950, the American Political Science Association (APSA) called for “responsible” parties that would do all these things, rather than merely serve as vehicles to election for those who want political power. Some argue that our present situation broadly reflects the goals outlined by the APSA report.
But does reality reflect that rosy view?
In an era in which the Democrats double down on identity politics and abortion extremism, the Republicans surrender to white nationalism, and the parties hate each other, it is difficult to believe (or even argue) that the system is working well.
I found this little-noticed speech by a Catholic bishop to be very insightful in assessing both the promise and the perils of our two parties today. But even in the 4 years since this speech, the Republican party has egregiously abandoned norms, principles, and decency.
More and more Americans say they feel “politically homeless,” yet every two years our choices are ever less representative and ever more extreme.
Groups like No Labels, the Centrist Project, the House Problem Solvers’ Caucus, and others have sought to break into the gridlock and offer a better way. But moderation is passe (and an electoral loser), even as we need it now more than ever.
Please read and share A.B. Stoddard’s outstanding column from early October about the need for Independents in the U.S. Senate (link here).
Below is a six-minute video of Unite America executive director Nick Troiano laying out a rationale for the Independent movement.
Can Independents win?
The short answer is no. The system is insurmountably rigged against them.
But with electoral system reforms including ranked choice voting, open primaries, and multi-member legislative districts, Independent and third party candidates have a chance to be relevant. As a basic moral principle, we need to end vote suppression and expand ballot access. Every American should support electoral reform groups like FairVote.
The Independent congressional candidate with the best chance of winning in 2018 is a Maine state legislator named Marty Grohman, who ran for Congress in Maine’s heavily Democratic 1st congressional district (campaign intro video here).
Maine adopted ranked choice voting for use in its federal elections beginning in 2018, so the Grohman campaign is a real-time experiment in how electoral reform can open the door for Independents (and, theoretically, third parties).
Here are two videos that explain RCV.
This, from the very effective electoral reform advocacy group RCV Maine:
And this, from the Maine Secretary of State’s office.
Grohman’s path to victory depends on two things happening. First, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree must not receive more than 50% the vote. If she does, RCV will not go into effect and the race is over. Second, Grohman has to finish ahead of Republican candidate Mark Holbrook. If those two things happen, then things get interesting. This chart shows a hypothetical path to victory for Grohman.
The theory behind this strategy goes like this:
Holbrook is a particularly odious Republican who, though he ran in 2016 and has some name ID, voters will balk at him in this liberal district.
Pingree is well-liked and has good committee assignments, but she is a Pelosi clone who is not active around the district and outsources constituent service to Senators Collins (R) and King (I). Some voters who would normally choose her in a two-person race will support a pro-choice, socially tolerant Independent candidate like Grohman.
When Holbrook is eliminated, many more of his voters will have ranked Grohman as their 2nd choice than Pingree. Thus, when the second choice votes are reapportioned in the second round, Grohman will prevail.
Grohman has received strong support from disaffected Republicans, including many business groups such as the U.S. Chamber. Of course, he will receive nearly all support from Never Trump Republicans.
But is a candidate like Grohman someone that national Never Trump Republican leaders should support, fund, and emulate/recreate nationwide? That is for them to consider and decide. I believe they should, as he would be an outstanding citizen-legislator, an influential player in the House, and an inspiration to hundreds of current and aspiring Independent politicians at the state and federal levels.
DISCLAIMER: I am an Independent. I value the movement for the disruptive role it can play in what I believe is a dangerously and pathetically unrepresentative, corrupt, and broken political system. But I am an equal-opportunity disruptor. I want to make both parties better and more representative. That’s why I am passionate about pro-life Democrats and Never Trump Republicans. I am also committed to breaking the two-party stranglehold on our politics. There are massive systemic challenges, of course. Even so, I find it a calling worthy of a citizen and a patriot. I am happy to work with principled disruptors of many stripes.